Tritium release event

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HM NUCLEAR INSTALLATIONS INSPECTORATE
AWE ALDERMASTON AND BURGHFIELD
QUARTERLY REPORT FOR 1 APRIL TO 30 JUNE 2005

Tritium Release event: 

NII has carried out an investigation into an incident that occured on site. As a consequence of its findings, NII has issued an improvement notice on AWE. A legacy item , now known to contain a very small quantity of adsorbed tritium , was found in a building not normally expected to contain radioactive material. At the time it was located there was no information to indicate what was in the container but it was suspected that it could contain tritium targets. It was decided to open the container to establish whether this was so. For this operation the container was moved to an old laboratory which is no longer in use and is considered not to meet the modern standard for this type of operation. In addition, the facility no longer had a discharge authorisation for such an operation.

The subsequent release was very low and well within discharge authorisations for the site. Biological monitoring indicates that no one was harmed or put at risk by the subsequent release. Nonetheless, the circumstances leading to the release revealed a loss of management control and supervision. Some shortfalls in training and instruction were also evident. An Improvement Notice was therefore prepared and issued to AWE. As part of lessons learned from this event the licensee has stated that they are undertaking a review of management control, supervision and mandatory training requirements across the site. NII will be closely monitoring this exercise. EA has also served a notice on this issue.